Auburn Court Gardener Takes Second Place in Mayor’s Garden Contest

For the second year in a row, Amanda Blicharz has placed in the Mayor’s Garden Contest, taking second place this year in the ‘Medium Yard’ category for the citywide summer competition.

Blicharz took third place in the category last year for her yard on Auburn Court, which she took on reluctantly for her condo association and for which she learned “on the job.”

Now in its 22nd year, the contest recognizes gardeners who have landscaped, planted flowers, trees, and shrubs, and, in the process, helped beautify Boston’s neighborhoods. A team of distinguished judges viewed the finalists’ gardens over a two-day period. Judges included members of the Garden Contest Hall of Fame, Boston Parks and Recreation Department staff, and local open space advocates. Winners were announced earlier this month.

“I’m very pleased to have moved up a place in the standings this year,” said Blicharz. “With different judges coming every year, you never really know what their preferences will be and they don’t see how the landscape develops over time, so there’s no predicting if changes made to the garden will also change how it places in the contest… I think it’s special to have a front yard in the city, and I enjoy gardening not only for myself, but also to bring joy to others who see it as well.”

Blicharz’s garden has been noted for the creative birdcage, mailbox planter and living wreath that draw attention in the neighborhood, and also drew the attention of judges last year.

One of the new additions to the garden has been a kaleidoscope that draws on the flowers below it to create colors in the viewer. It’s something her husband made for the garden, and it’s been a hit in the neighborhood, as well as in the contest.

“It’s a planter set in a birdbath, and instead of turning the end of the kaleidoscope to change the image inside, you turn the planter and the colors of the flowers create the image you see through the lens,” she said. “I have it placed next to the fence so that people can use it as they walk past.”

Meanwhile, Blicharz has also realized a goal of getting her garden certified as a wildlife habitat with the National Wildlife Federation. Using plants that attract wildlife and are native to the area, gardeners can become certified through a rigorous process, which Blicharz completed.

She said it’s something that many in the Town don’t realize can happen in a city landscape.

“They allow certified gardeners to purchase signage for their garden so I have a plaque in the yard now,” she said. “It’s generated a lot of conversation with passers-by; many people don’t think of an urban garden as being a sanctuary for wildlife and are surprised that a small space can be making a difference in supporting the insects, birds, and other animals right here.”

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